I had a dream that my town was just about to fall to the Cylons. The Cylons lived on Earth, you see, and took over bit by bit, expanding their territory. They would kill or assimilate us all, but they didn’t have access to a gigantic nuclear arsenal or anything like that.
Well, I found out somehow that they were interested in human history, and that they wanted this one old artifact. A glass sculpture. For some reason, I had this thing. I think that someone had looted it out of the museum during the war and it had come to me subsequently.
Well, I saw this as an opportunity to save my town. So I strolled right into the Cylon base and allowed myself to be captured by them. They took me in to the base and had me speak to a spokesperson, played by Heather, this girl who works at Jerusalem Garden.
I told them that I would show them where this artifact was if they spared my town.
It was agreed, but they said that there was only one way that we could trust each other to uphold the deal: They would assimilate me into the Cylon collective.
I was resistant, but I realized that I couldn’t have hoped for much better. I figured that, in some way, I was sacrificing myself by coming here. At least they weren’t killing me, and at least some part of what was me would live on.
They grabbed me and walked me over to the assimilation platform. They told me that the process would entail me feeling two minutes of intense pleasure. Could be worse.
They turned on the machine, and my consciousness grew to envelop all my Cylon bretheren, with warm, open, welcoming arms. This experience was beautiful. I couldn’t believe that we had been so resistant to the assimilation. I cried out in pleasure, but then became embarassed, as I realized that all the other Cylons were aware of my behavior. They all went through the same process, after all, and here I was making a big deal about it. But it was okay. They understood.
Somewhere, some Cylon was hearing the song “stars and stripes forever”. I began to think of the words “be kind to your web-footed friends / for that duck might be somebody’s mommy”. A shudder of laughter erupted around the planet. It was amazing to experience. Normally, when I told a joke or something, there were maybe five people in the room that hear me. Here, I could instantaneously have nine million Cylons, all of them thinking about “be kind to your web-footed friends” at the same time. I was hooked.
Some humans burst into the base, to save me. Machine guns and all. They grabbed my body off the assimilation machine. I would not have them destroy my newfound brotherhood, but these had been my friends, so I would not have them killed, either. I decided to shift my consciousness away from that body. It fell limp, like a puppet with its strings cut. My friends thought I was dead. I shifted my consciousness to pay more attention to the body of Heather, the one that had been functioning as a spokesperson to the humans, becuase the humans understood us so much better that way.
I stood up and told everybody to lay down their weapons. We would leave this base and this town in peace. My friends were astonished by the Cylons’ new behavior. Our intentions had always been pretty opaque to them, but they only new us as killers and monsters. Now we were just walking away from the fight. They had never seen us do anything like this before.
Of course, the change was the assimilation of Ryan. That had, of course, changed Ryan’s life and consciousness a very great deal. But the process works in both directions, and the Cylon consciousness was also altered by the addition of Ryan. We began to see things in a new way. Human individuality was something special and curious. There was one Cylon collective. We could just shift our consciousness around and cut bodies out and add new ones in. But because the humans had no collective consciousness, each one body contained an entire consciousness. The death of one human body would destroy an entire consciousness, and this was equivalent to the destruction of all of the nine million bodies in the Cylon collective.
The destruction of souls was NOT what we wanted to be a part of. We have always wanted what was best for everything. We assimilated humans, because that would bring them into our glorious consciousness. Those who did not want this, we took to be malfunctioning units, and nothing was lost by the destruction of such a part. We were greatly saddened to learn that we had destroyed so many consciousnesses.
The preservation of human life, and most particularly the beautiful consciousnesses that each contained. That was our new goal. The Cylon consciousness would not die with the death of any body. We suddenly felt a sense of panic that each time a person’s body died, their soul was lost. We must dedicate ourselves to the preservation of each individual life.
Now, the Cylons were adaptable, but the humans were not. For human souls to have a rich, fulfilling existence, the human must have a particular environment, with a particular type of human society. They must have self-determination. Therefore, we must allow human culture to persist. It is we who must adapt to it. We would integrate ourselves into it.
We had the body of Ted Danson, who we had assimilated earlier. We understood that this body was known and trusted amongst humans. We used it to promote the idea of fitness. Aerobics. Exercise. This would help each human soul live for as long as possible, by preserving the body.
It took the humans some time before they could understand that we were serious about this sudden change in policy. We had been fighting a war against them, killing them, taking over their cities. They could not understand – we had been like a force of nature, bearing down upon them. Death would come, uncaring, and they did not know why. And suddenly, the force had stopped. Suddenly, arms were laid down and troops were withdrawn, and the orders came through – “You will be allowed to go on living your lives in your way. But please, we urge all of you to get enough exercise. Have you considered spinning? Yoga? Pilates? We Cylons will close down our weapons factories and we will open up a chain of gymnasiums in each human city. They are free of charge. Please make use of them. Furthermore, it has come to our attention that, in five billion years, your sun will undergo changes that will cause this planet to become inhospitible to life. We will be working on this problem.”
People had never been so confused.
You want a little glimpse into what came next?
Well, the body of Heather, who had been the Cylon spokesperson during the war, got a job as a bank teller. We had, after all, decided that it would be important to integrate into human society, to provide them with the most enriching environment possible.
Heather’s boss was unreasonably harsh to Heather. Because the humans did not understand our ways, they thought of Heather as the leader of the war. The humans had a hard time understanding our change of policy. And they had a hard time understanding that Heather was no more the leader than the lips were the leader of a human body.
The boss was having a conversation with Heather, and using harsh tones and language. We could not figure out why he would treat her so harshly. Slowly, we came to understand. This man was angry because he felt we had not been performing our duties well as the bank teller. Any time a person came to ask for money, we would give them what they asked for. It seemed reasonable to us, because this money seemed so important to human happiness. Why would these humans not allow one another to live up to the full potential of their lives? The Cylons lived as a collective – almost a nation within a nation. We looked after what was best for the whole. Why did the humans not do this? Sometimes, we Cylons would act irresponsibly toward one or another of our bodies, but this did not increase the suffering of any souls. How could the humans be so cavalier about allowing the suffering of one another?
Another man came and took Heather’s body to a jail, and to a court room. A few other Cylon bodies had been arrested and were all waiting in the courtroom to be arraigned, as were some humans. While we awaited our turns to be arraigned, some other Cylons were reading up on human law, and becoming increasingly frustrated. Finally, we could take no more. All the cylons in the courtroom stood up and we had Heather speak again, with the voice of battle, interrupting the proceedings.
“We cannot understand your human law. The body of law is too large, how can you expect a human to understand and know all of it? How can you hold them to live by all these laws when they cannot know or understand them? We declare this system to be an unfair affront to the necessary dignity of human life. We try to adapt to your society, but it would not be to the benefit of anybody for us to adapt to this.” We attacked the guards (not so as to kill them, just so as to stop them from pursuing or subduing us). To our surprise, many of the human criminals joined us. We marched together to free the humans that were living non-enriching lives in the jails. The Cylons formed a formidible force in this action, but our numbers were bolstered by a large and growing number of humans, who felt that they had been forced to live degrading lives, and looked forward to freeing themselves of these unfair requirements. We had tried not to interfere in human affairs, but we could not stand by and allow this suffering.
And that’s how it went down.
(Update: Removed accidentally-pasted-in text about the Alford plea which got on there while I was double-checking the meaning of the word “arraignment” on wikipedia).
(Update 2: I was quite surprised tonight to find that glass sculpture that the Cylons were so interested in. It was sitting in my room right next to my alarm clock. Apparently, my subconscious pays more attention to the decorations in my room than my conscious mind does).